It’s been a whirlwind…Friday, May 25, 2012

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Prior to the Atlanta race I got to go to hang out with guys from Seether during their show on the Seether/BUSH/Nickelback tour
I told that if you blinked your eyes after our 4Wide race in Charlotte that things were going to look different in the NHRA points standings. The last blog I wrote on here, we were headed to Houston after our NAPA Auto Parts team had a great race at zMAX Dragway with a trip to the final round and we were very pumped up about being able to continue that momentum to our next event and that is exactly what Rahn Tobler, John Collins and our NAPA team did in Houston. We made all 4 runs in qualifying under power and all four runs on Sunday with either low elapsed time of the round or right with anyone's runs on Sunday and we carried that all the way to our second final round in a row before losing to Mike Neff in the final round.

We had a quick turnaround that week before we had to get on the road and get to our next race in Atlanta, well we always say Atlanta when the track is pretty far out of Atlanta, in Commerce, Ga. Since NAPA Auto Parts headquarters is located IN Atlanta, we had plenty of stuff cooking that week. I had to fly in a day early for an event on Thursday and I got a call from my friends on the Seether and Nickelback tour and they were playing in downtown Atlanta on that Wednesday night, so I landed and checked into my hotel and wandered over to the concert all by my lonesome and my friends in Seether had just got the stage when I walked in and they were great as always.

They finished their set and as Bush came on stage they grabbed me and we went backstage for some hydrating and liquid lubricating if you know what I mean. We got carried away with the time and went back out next to the stage to watch Nickelback finish their set and we hung out after the show. Let’s just say that I left the tour busses in the wee morning. I woke up a few hours later in my hotel room, hopped in the shower and tried to wake up for one of the most fun days I have had in a while. I was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Atlanta Braves noon home game on the Thursday prior to our race that weekend.

The whole NAPA team was invited up to the NAPA suite and I think there were so many NHRA racers and fans in the stadium and it was making me even more nervous about my pitch. We had a great time that afternoon and I had to leave in the 8th inning to head out to Lake Lanier for another NAPA get together with about 200 of their best customers that night.

Atlanta is a track that we have always done well at, but it is also a track that has alluded us from a win and this year that all changed. The whole weekend just had one of the "feels" to it, ya know? Our crew brought a cardboard stand up of the "World’s most interesting man" and he watched the day go by, round by round. Being that it was a very hot and tricky racetrack, Tobler and the guys kept us with lane choice all day on Sunday and I finally got a win in Atlanta! What a great weekend it was, especially with NAPA being headquartered there an all. We shared the winners circle with Mike Rearden from NAPA, along with his wife Jan, and we gave the trophy to Mike since it was the first time he was at one of our races during a win.

They took us (and the trophy) to a great dinner that night at a great little Italian restaurant and we celebrated the win together before I took the trophy to NAPA’s HQ the next morning and had lunch with all of the NAPA execs in town. It was a very proud moment for me to represent DSR and take that "Wally" down there and share it with them. Trust me, it is hard enough to win, let alone win in your sponsors backyard.

We had a weekend off of racing before having to go to Topeka, Kansas for our next NHRA event, but I had a pretty full schedule and much more miles to cover in the air before I saw the weekend. I left Atlanta and flew up to Canada to London,Ontario and we then drove to Stratford, Ontario for a dinner and an appearance with Ideal Supply company up there. If you ever get the chance to get up there, it is one of the most beautiful cities you will ever see AND it is the hometown of Justin Bieber. Ironically while I was up there and I got to hang out with the Hyde family that are both racers, brother and sister Spencer and Sydnie ( http://www.quick32.ca/2012/05/nhras-ron-capps-visits-hyde-racing/). Knowing that my daughter is 15, and Sydnie being close enough to the Bieber family, she surprised me with a CD signed by Justin... pretty cool (for Taylor that is).

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I went to Canada for NAPA, met some great people and was rewarded with a CD signed by hometown boy Bieber (I swear it is for my daughter....)
With my passport back out, I flew out early the next morning to Marion, Ind., for a grand opening of a new NAPA store. It was a noon– 2 p.m. appearance on a Thursday with them advertising me being there, you sometimes wonder how many people are going to be at an event like this, but man was I shocked when we rolled up to the new store and saw all of the fans that were lined up waiting. It really reminds you how lucky we are to have such great fans! I flew back home that night and was able to spend a much need weekend at home. I got to help out in Caden’s class then on Saturday night we all gathered around the TV and watched the Darlington NASCAR race hoping to watch my teammate Martin Truex Jr. get his first win in a NAPA uniform. they are doing great and a win is coming soon.

That Sunday night I was asked to be on Dave Despain's "Wind Tunnel" show on SPEED channel  (http://www.speedtv.com//video/wind-tunnel/interviews/wind-tunnel-ron-capps-may-14th-1639420431001/1#_). They sent the big satellite truck again to the house and once again it was it was very cool to represent the NHRA on such a big motorsports show.

Last weekend was our race in Topeka, Kansas and NAPA allowed us to run the NAPA Brakes body that we won in Atlanta for one more race. Rahn Tobler and the guys came in Topeka with a great plan and while we have been No. 2 qualifier for the last few races, we ran a great 4.07 that put us 4th in qualifying and Sunday morning brought us another warm day on race day. Tobler once again kept us in the lane of his choice all day with some stunning runs that were very impressive considering most of the other cars were having a tough time even getting down the track and Rahn sent me down with a staggering 4.12 in the semifinals, so we felt very good going into the final against our DSR teammate Beckman and the Valvoline NextGen team.

Jack's engine came to life as I was waiting for the tree to come down and away we went...I was sure he red lit, but I looked up at the scoreboard about halftrack and didn’t see my win light on and I could see his fender out my side window all the way down the track. Jack had a .004 light and that got their team a much needed win, and those team guys were my crew guys for the last 4 years, so we were happy for them.

It is a tough way to lose, but I did the same thing to Gary Densham in the final round in Phoenix one year. My foot said time to go and luckily for me the tree came on and we got the win. Don Schumacher was at home recuperating from foot surgery, so for him to have his two Funny Cars in the final I am sure it made him proud. The bright side is that our NAPA team moved solidly into second place in the Full Throttle standings and Jack's team moved up a few positions as well.

We have Memorial weekend off to catch our breath and relax a bit before things get busy again. We race Englishtown next weekend and then I am going straight to Indy for our annual DSR/NAPA bowling event in Indy on Tuesday, June 5 (http://www.shoeracing.com/news/nhra-pro-racers-to-hit-a-different-lane-june-5-join-bowlers-to-raise-money-for-riley-kids) that will have all the DSR drivers as well as a bunch of other NHRA drivers there that night.

Then the next night is the Prelude to the Dream all-star dirt race at Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, June 6th. It is on PPV, only about $25 for the PPV and it is once again going to be great cause as host Tony Stewart picked "Feed the Children" as the charity this year. You can go to the web site (http://www.preludetothedream.org/) to check out all the NASCAR, IndyCar and other motorsports drivers that Cruz Pedregon and I will compete against. If you haven’t seen the race before, tune into the PPV and check it out.

Don’t forget that you can always keep up with me on a daily basis through my Twitter posts as well (@NapaRonCapps). Have a great weekend and talk to you soon! RC



Just keep getting busier! Thursday, April 26, 2012

We are gearing up for our race in Houston, Texas, this weekend and while this time of the season it seems like the racing is sort of sporadic, we also know that when May rolls around that the racing schedule gets a little busier and those gaps in the calendar get less and less.

Our racing schedule is just part of the equation when they start filling up my yearly calendar because I keep very busy running around the country getting to do sponsor appearances for NAPA Auto Parts, and while I always brag about having the best racing sponsor on the planet, making them proud ON the track is still the biggest priority I have, as well as everyone at DSR.

I spend a lot of time traveling around and celebrating store openings, get-togethers with NAPA customers and NAPA Auto Care Center people and dinners and a bunch of other things, but I also get asked to do some pretty cool things as well.

One of those things is coming up next week (Thursday, May 3) before our race in Atlanta where I was asked to throw out the first pitch at the Atlanta Braves home game against the Phillies, if you're in town for the race in Commerce, Ga., make sure you come out and join us!

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The Fanfest at New York, New York was a reminder of how cool our NHRA fans are, what a crowd!
I have talked about how cool it is sometimes to look around at the track or at a photo or video shoot and see the talent that Don has put together at DSR. Most of you only get to see the drivers or crew chiefs on TV, but the talent in the pit areas and at our DSR shop in Brownsburg still amazes me. I want to back up to our Vegas race for a minute as we were kept pretty busy with off-track stuff before and during the race with the fan fest we did at New York, New York hotel (DSR's home away from home in Vegas) and the amount of NHRA fans that showed up were staggering, so once again, THANK YOU for supporting us like you do!

Well, after the change was made to have Rahn Tobler tune the NAPA Dodge, I was more pumped up heading to Charlotte than I have been in a long time and we had a great start together on the NAPA Auto Parts team with #1 qualifier thru Friday qualifying and we ended up #3 when qualifying was over.

Race day on Sunday we had some special guests as Michael Waltrip Racing’s Traci Hultzapple and our DSR team arranged for our NAPA Auto Parts NASCAR teammate Martin Truex Jr. and the whole MWR NAPA Auto Parts team to come out and hang with our NHRA team.

If you have been following my blogs you know that I was a guest at the NASCAR race in Fontana and had such a great time that. It was so cool to be able to show their team what we do and they had such a great time! Here is a link to some video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NA9yiabBelI&list=UUdOcTGW4GLpGV4M0Bl66LxQ&index=1&feature=plcp).

On top of all of that going on, Rahn tuned our car to a final-round finish and I really felt that we had the best race car all weekend. I can’t wait to get to Houston this weekend!

I spent some time in Hanford, Calif., over the weekend to race a dirt car to get a little bit of seat time for the “Prelude to the Dream” PPV dirt race on Wednesday June 6 (http://www.preludetothedream.org/about/).

They had "Ron Capps night," and I had a great time as we started 18th in the main event and the car owner, Mark Odgers, hit the setup perfect as I had moved all the way up to 4th place before someone used me as the cushion and slip into our left side and broke the left front a-arm. I got to see a bunch of friends in the dirt racing world and got a little more seat time that will hopefully help in June at the Prelude race.

Saying that there was a lot going in Charlotte is an understatement with my new team, new car, new tuner, and having to adapt to the way Rahn likes his driver to do things, so I am very, very excited to be going back to two-wide racing with our team this weekend and we are looking to start working our way back up in the points standings!

Talk to you soon- RC

Staying pretty busyMonday, April 09, 2012

Hey everyone! I just got back home from Vegas and have began this blog a few times since our Gainesville race and every time I sat down to finish it I ended up deleting and starting over.

It seems nowadays with Twitter (@NapaRonCapps) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RonCappsFC ) that everything is so instant that when I sit down to write a blog on here it seems like it is such a distant thing I am writing about ... if that makes sense.

It has been pretty much same ol' same ol' since we went to semifinals at the Winternationals and we had run pretty good with our NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car at Phoenix and then again at the Gainesville race as well with a great qualifying effort and then we ran into the Prock rocket and while we ran a great 4.05 second run. Robert beat us with a 4.03 and our weekend was over.

I want to back up for a second though as we ran the March Meet the weekend prior to the Gatornationals and on Sunday of the race I was asked to come to the starting line where I was presented with the Jack Williams Award. Jack Williams was a former Top Fuel driver but made an impact on our sport of drag racing in many ways, and to get the award with his name on it was truly an honor.

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Getting the Jack Williams Award
We had a couple of weeks off, but as usual, I was staying pretty busy. We had the "Tour de Charity" kart race up at Infineon raceway once again and this year Jack Beckman and I spent the day with a sold out group of fans racing karts in the rain, it was a great time and once again we raised more money for the Speedway Childrens Charity.

I flew home to basically change clothes and grab my son Caden and drive up to the Fontana track to attend the NASCAR race and it turned out to be one heck of a day as Martin Truex, Jr. and the NAPA Auto Parts team had Caden and I hang out with them. We spent the race day morning at the NASCAR drivers meeting with Martin Truex and then I was able to introduce Caden to several other drivers, get pictures with them and even ran into actor Vince Vaughn there and chatted with him for a bit and then he kneeled down and took a picture with Caden. It was a great day.

We got to sit up on the NAPA pit box and listen to Martin and his crew chief Chad as they fought all the way up to the 8th position before the rains came and that was when we jumped in the car and headed home.

We headed to Vegas that week for our race there and spent most of the week doing media stuff with a radio tour on Thursday morning with my brother Jon, and several other TV things on Friday before qualifying.

We surely didn’t have the weekend we expected and we didn’t qualify, which was topped by Tim Richards resigning from DSR. It has made this week a very interesting week as we are going to have Rahn Tobler leading our NAPA Auto Parts team starting in Charlotte next weekend.

I have been very lucky to have had worked with three great crew chiefs at DSR with of course my mentor Ed McCulloch (for many years at Don Prudhomme’s team and then of course all the years here at DSR), then John Medlen for a short time and then of course Tim Richards. While I am very bummed out that Tim is no longer my crew chief, I am very, very excited to drive for Rahn Tobler as we have been teammates for a long time at DSR.

I know that NAPA Auto Parts is going to be thrilled with the results we are going to have the rest of this 2012 season. There was a short time during the off season prior to the 2011 season that Rahn was possibly going to be tuning the NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car as John Medlen was having to help get our in-house DSR machine shop running and wasn’t going to be able to concentrate on tuning our car.

Don was vigorously working on getting funding for Jack's car and didn’t have anything concrete and Rahn Tobler and I talked for a brief time about starting out that season working together until Don was able to put our new sponsor Aaron's and Valvoline NextGen together for a full season and that team went on to have a great 2011 season of course.

I have been blessed to have the same core group of crew members that have worked and raced with me at DSR since we wore the Brut cologne colors and then stayed together as a team when we were lucky enough to have NAPA Auto Parts join DSR and they have been a huge part of my family as sometimes it seems like we are actually together more than we are with our own families.

While it doesn’t happen as much in our sport, you see NASCAR teams swapping complete crews at times and even crew chiefs all the time. The cool part about what Don has built at DSR is that the crew member on all seven teams are all great at what they do and they all enjoy what they do, and the same can be said for our crew chiefs and drivers. Trust me, there is a reason that DSR has all those trophies.

You have to keep in mind how much more difficult a Funny Car is to tune for these crew chiefs than a dragster, you can ask any of the top crew chiefs in the sport and will attest to it and when you have any prominent sponsor like we have at DSR, winning a few races and being top 5 in points isn’t in our vocabulary, we want to constantly be the best.

I can tell you that there has been numerous times that one or more of the crew chiefs has helped another crew chief in our organization, and there have been many times (now included) that a crew chief and team will run a new part that DSR designed to see if it is going to help us be a stronger team as a whole. Believe me ... it happens more times than you probably realize and that is what makes our teams so strong.

Our teams are back in Indy and hopefully will be able to enjoy a good Easter weekend with their families and then we will be off to Charlotte for the 4 wide race and our Full Throttle schedule is gonna start kicking into gear a little bit with races getting a little more frequent.

The reality at home is setting in as Taylor is taking her driver’s test and I am letting her drive a little more frequently around the house and that for me is hard to watch our little girl grow up...ugh.

Thanks again for all the nice words from our fans, we really appreciate it!

Talk to you soon.

Busy start to the yearSunday, February 26, 2012

Just got back from our Phoenix race and got settled in at home, it is getting a little nuts around here because my son Caden just started his Little League baseball season and Taylor is headed to Dallas for their next Cheer competition.

We had a very good start at the Winternationals in Pomona with a good qualifying run and then going to the semifinals, and while you surely want to win the first race, you don’t want to start the year off with a not-so-good Winternationals. We qualified great and won a very tough 1st round race with teammate Matt Hagan, and then went all the way to the semifinals where we lost a very close race to Mike Neff and our Winternationals was over.

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SX racer James Stewart and his family with Antron and I
Pomona is always a great race, and like most times we race there, we had a bunch of very cool guests this year with SX great James “Bubba” Stewart and his family coming out for the whole day of qualifying. We had Barry Weiss from “Storage Wars” come by on Sunday, my buddy and overall crazy XGamer Ronnie Renner hung out and tried to steal my ride. A new friend Ben Carey (guitarist for band Lifehouse) couldn’t get enough nitro and came back for a couple of days in Pomona.

This year was a pretty quick week between Pomona and Phoenix and for me I just drove down I-5 and parked our coach in our storage lot and then unpacked, packed again and hopped in my car and headed out.

The nice thing about this time of the year is the races being somewhat close for me because once the season starts kicking in after Gainesville it’s is a bunch of travel for me since I live in California .This year was a good example because after Pomona I hopped in my car and drove up to the L.A. area and picked up Dr. Donny and Tommy DeLago and the three of us hit I-10 Eastbound and Down to Phoenix to try and meet up for dinner with Phoenix Bob Kuhar for our first corporate meeting of a joint clothing venture we have together at a great restaurant in Chandler called Loco Patron.

Then the next morning I headed south a little bit to join NAPA Auto Parts and a huge group of their finest customers for a golf outing, I know… sounds like hard work. We got up early on Friday and did my annual visit to Phoenix rock station KUPD the Morning Sickness show with Holmberg and Brady and this year we had the comic Frank Caliendo pop into the studio spur of the moment and it turned into a pretty good time.

The weekend brought some warm and dry conditions, but the track was tricky and fast if you got it figured out. We didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to, and it put us up against a very tough car with Cruz.

We won that race without lane choice, one of the benefits of having the “the General” leading our NAPA Auto Parts team. We lost a second round race with Neff again (hope this trend ends soon...) and our Phoenix race was over.

One cool thing is that NAPA became the official Firebird Int’l Raceway track sponsor and we had over 3,000 guest during the weekend that NAPA took care of with food and drink and all the nitro they wanted to smell, it was a great time and I always look forward to going back there, and like last year in Pomona, our friend Randy Johnson had such a blast last time that he came out again for the whole weekend and brought out his trick cameras and got some pretty cool shots from the starting line.

We have a couple of weekends off of the NHRA Full Throttle schedule, but as you know it is the time of the year that we race the fabled March Meet race up at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, CA (http://www.famosoraceway.com/) and once again I will be driving Chuck and Del Worsham’s nostalgia Funny Car. It is the Blue Max car with a Plymouth Arrow body on it now, and of course we will be kicking off the event at Chuys on Wednesday night for the NAPA March Meet kickoff party.

It is a great time, sort of a fun weekend with a lot of the big name crew chiefs and former legendary drag racing stars all hanging out. Where else can you see over 32 5 second 260 mph Funny Cars running the 1/4 mile?

I took the girls to the airport for the big Cheer competition in Dallas that Taylor has, so it is going to be boys weekend with Caden and I. We are going to do all that fun stuff that boys do like paintball, karting, rolling around in the dirt, leaving the toilet seat up.... all that cool fun boys stuff! <grin>

Hope you have a good weekend, don’t forget you don’t have to wait for my blog as you can follow me every hour of the day on Twitter (@NapaRonCapps)

Talk to you soon!

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